This article originally appeared on Buick.com.
Milestone vehicles that established and advanced the brand’s performance heritage
DETROIT – Performance has been part of Buick’s DNA since its earliest days, when stripped-down chassis and powerful Buick engines pushed the pioneers of motorsports to victory. Racing success helped forge the brand’s reputation for durability. Now, more than a century later, that legacy of performance complements the refinement for which Buick has always been known.
Here’s a look at 10 milestone models that helped establish and advance Buick’s performance heritage:
1. 1909 Buick racecar
In 1909 – two years before the first Indianapolis 500 – the 2.5-mile-long oval at Indy was inaugurated with the Prest-O-Lite Trophy. The 250-mile race was won by Bob Burman, driving a Buick and averaging more than 53 mph. Of the nine cars that finished the race, three of them were Buick models.
2. 1910 Buick 60 Special “Bug”
The 60 Special, or “Bug,” was built by the Buick racing team and had a unique nosecone – a feature designed more for aesthetics than aerodynamics. A huge, 10.2L (622 cubic inches) four-cylinder engine propelled the Bug to 110 mph. Buick built two 60 Special racecars, one for Prest-O-Lite Trophy winner Bob Burman, and a second for another racer of note: Louis Chevrolet.
3. 1938 Buick Century
Buick introduced straight-eight engines in 1931, but it was the 1938 Century model that established a new performance benchmark. Dubbed Dynaflash 8, the 5.2L (320 cubic inches) inline engine featured new, domed pistons that contributed to an 11-hp increase over the 1937 engine. It was enough power to pass the “century mark” at 103 mph, making the Century one of the fastest cars of its day.
4. 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept
The Buick V-8 engine – nicknamed Nailhead for its unique valve arrangement – was introduced in 1953 and powered the Wildcat II concept vehicle a year later. Using a quartet of sidedraft carburetors, engineers coaxed 10 percent more horsepower from the engine than regular-production models, giving the Wildcat II the power to back up its sporty styling.